R. Kelly jury to hear how he illegally wed underage Aaliyah at his sex-trafficking trial

The last pre-trial hearing before R. Kelly’s federal

sex-trafficking trial begins next week featured a

laundry list of what will and won’t be heard by

the jury, including his secret marriage to then-

teenage singer Aaliyah.

 

The outline of the story of Kelly and Aaliyah, who

died in a 2001 plane crash, has long been

known although Kelly has never admitted to

wrongdoing. They secretly married in 1994, when

she was 15 and he was 27 – allegedly after he

bribed a government official to obtain a fake

ID for her showing her age as 18, according to

55-page motion filed by prosecutors last

week. The marriage was soon annulled.

R. Kelly, Aaliyah are posing for a picture: This combination photo shows singer R. Kelly in Chicago on May 9, 2008, and late R&B singer Aaliyah in New York on May 9, 2001.

Now, according to the transcript of Tuesday’s

hearing obtained by USA TODAY, prosecutors

will be allowed to present evidence about how

Kelly, now 54, allegedly had “sexual contact” with

Aaliyah, referred to as “Jane Doe #1,” when she was underage.

 

In a pre-trial motion, prosecutors

allege that Kelly believed she became pregnant,

so he secretly arranged a marriage to protect

himself from possible criminal charges, because

a wife can’t be forced to testify against a

husband.

 

“It’s clearly relevant and it clearly shows a motive

for Racketeering Act Number One, so that is

admissible,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly

ruled.

 

One of Kelly’s lawyers, Nicole Blank Becker,

objected that discussing before the jury some

aspects of the marriage episode may be “more

prejudicial than probative,” the standard for

whether to admit evidence at trial. The judge said

she would follow established rules about what is

admissible.

 

“Obviously, with all of these things I’m not going

to permit hearsay,” she said.

 

The issue of the marriage is among a dozen

allegations and potential witnesses that

prosecutors sought Tuesday to bring up at Kelly’s

trial, scheduled to start jury selection on Monday

in the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.

During the hearing, Donnelly went over the

prosecutors’ wish list of matters they want to

present to the jury as other alleged

instances where Kelly is accused of sexually or

physically abusing people, even though Kelly is

not charged with crimes in connection with these

matters.

 

Instead, prosecutors will present them as “other

acts” of alleged criminal behavior by Kelly, meant

to bolster their case on the crimes for which he

was indicted in July 2019.

 

The uncharged acts are “directly relevant to and

inextricably intertwined with the evidence of the

charged crimes,” the prosecutors argued in

their motion.

 

Those charged crimes involve six women (two

were girls at the time), and include child

pornography, kidnapping, obstruction of justice,

sex-trafficking and racketeering for purposes of

sexual exploitation of children.

 

Prosecutors accuse Kelly of leading “a criminal

enterprise” of managers, bodyguards and other

employees, who allegedly helped Kelly to recruit

women and underage girls for sex and

pornography, and to cross state lines for that

purpose.

 

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges against

him.

 

The accusers of the charged crimes have not been

identified publicly, although Blank Becker said

Aaliyah is Jane Doe #1 in the case and the

prosecution’s description of Jane Doe #1 matches

her.

The women accusers who testify will be called

only by their first name in court, the judge ruled.

 

a close up of R. Kelly wearing sunglasses: R. Kelly arriving at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago for arraignment, June 26, 2019.

According to the hearing transcript,

the Associated Press and Blank Becker, the judge

mostly ruled for prosecutors but said some

evidence will be excluded because it is too similar

to other parts of the case aimed at showing Kelly

engaged in racketeering in pursuit of women and

girls he could abuse.

 

Donnelly said she will generally not allow

questions aimed at revealing if any of the women

have had mental health treatment. She said she

will not allow the jurors to be told that one

witness had worked as an exotic dancer years

after she said she was abused.

 

Also likely to be excluded from the trial is any

testimony about religious beliefs or that some of

the women were directed to have sex with one

another, the judge said.

 

Kelly’s defense team objected to the

prosecution’s wish list, complaining they were

“blindsided” by a motion filed just a few weeks

before the trial is to begin. Blank Becker told USA

TODAY the defense intends to press for “a fair

and impartial trial, one based on fact.”

 

“If we do not hold the government to this

standard, what is the point of the American

justice system?” she said. “Our job as Mr. Robert

Kelly’s defense team is to make sure his rights

are protected and we fight for the truth.”

 

Kelly, who was in the courtroom Tuesday, has

been locked up since he was indicted, mostly

housed in a federal jail in Chicago. Last month he

was moved to the federal Metropolitan

Detention Center in Brooklyn.

 

One of his lawyers, Deveraux Cannick, told the

judge that Kelly has lost money and gained

weight while in jail, and needs to be measured for

new clothing. He asked that court transcripts be

provided at no cost because Kelly has been

unable to work for two years.

 

“His funds are depleted,” Cannick said of his

client, who left the courtroom after the hearing

with his hands cuffed.

 

Kelly also faces similar sex-crime charges in

federal court in Chicago and in state courts in

Chicago and in Minneapolis. Delays due to the

pandemic have left the New York case the first

one to go to trial. The world will be watching.

 

Source: Tyshawn Smith

 

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